SOMALILAND: President Bihi Invites New British PM to Work With The Country

By Odindo Ayieko

Somaliland government has welcomed new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson  to visit the horn of Africa country.

In a congratulatory message to Johnson, Somaliland president Musa Bihi tweeted: “The Republic of Somaliland and its people congratulate Boris Johnson on becoming the new leader of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. We wish our historic friend long term ally success and prosperity under the leadership of (Boris) Johnson.”

Johnson has stated he will work towards ending the poverty situations in the countries the United Kingdom has worked with previously.

“This is in itself a very good gesture. Somaliland being one of former British protectorates must be one of Johnson’s points of focus,” a Somaliland Advocacy group stated.

“Under Boris Johnson, A post-Brexit Britain will have to go in search of new African opportunities like Somaliland”

Aniis Essa, the director of Somaliland Advocacy group in the diaspora said in a statement: “We offer our best wishes as you lead your country forward and build a better future for the British People.”

“Your continual support in Africa is greatly appreciated especially the humanitarian involvement in Somaliland and the advancement of democracy in Africa.

“Our {Somaliland} situation could present a successful model for you, with a particular eye on the current UK Political and mood of its citizens.   Please consider Somaliland’s present conditions with possible solutions via passive but secondary involvement by your administration.”

Johnson takes office as Britain’s Prime Minister having a determination to make Brexit a reality in 99 days, whether the EU accepts a new deal or not. He says Britain can thrive without an orderly exit from the EU by striking Free Trade deals with the rest of the world, saying this will be at the heart of his plans.

Free trade deals

Speaking outside the 10th Downing Street having just presented himself as the new Prime Minister  to Queen Elizabeth, Johnson said; “Let’s start now on those free trade deals, because it is free trade that has done more than anything to lift billions out of poverty.”

Africa has been a big theme of all the main contenders wanting to lead Britain after Brexit is completed.  Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, also said she wanted to focus on trade deals with the rest of the world, and she laid particular emphasis on Africa, leading a high profile visit to the continent exactly a year ago, in August 2018 where she led a business-focussed delegation to South Africa, Nigeria and also Kenya.

In Britain, there is pressure from within to recognise and work with it’s former colony Somaliland. A fortnight ago, the city of Birmingham Led by the three main political party leaders; Council Leader, Councillor Ian Ward (Labour), Cllr Robert Alden (Conservatives) and the Council’s Lib Dem leader, Cllr Jon Hunt signed a joint letter to the Johnson’s predecessor  Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt – urging the UK government to recognise Somaliland as an independent country.

But there is a sense that the UK has been slow to take advantage in Somaliland which is a former UK protectorate is home to an estimated 150,000 Somaliland diaspora.

“Britain once led the world in opening up new commercial frontiers across the continent. If Boris Johnson, who says he wants to prove Britain’s doubters wrong, wants to help  rediscover the UK’s commercial bravery on the continent he will have to engage with countries like Somaliland,” Somaliland business community in the diaspora stated.

Somaliland broke away from war-torn Somalia, and has maintained peace, stability and strong security for 30 years.

Somaliland is already attracting foreign investments. UAE based port management and logistics giant DP World is close to completing a $450 million modernisation Berbera port, which will make it a commercial hub and gateway in East Africa. The country business is thriving and has connected the east Africa with a submarine cable system that runs from Djibouti through to Mombasa covering over 4,500 kilometers.

Somaliland also has huge untapped natural resources. It has attracted the biggest oil companies in the world; Shell, BP, Conoco-Phillips, Chevron.

There are also highly promising initial signs of considerable deposits of high-purity Iron Ore, Gold, precious stones, Uranium, Tin and Copper. With a 890 kms coastline which is free from any incidents of piracy, Somaliland also boasts some of the richest stocks of seafood in the region, especially as the predominantly meat-eating population don’t consume much seafood.

Source: East African Business Week

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